Groote Schuur celebrates 80th anniversary

Groote Schuur Hospital is celebrating 80 years since it opened its doors.

Groote Schuur Hospital is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year and will be hosting a several events to mark the milestone.

Last Friday the public were treated to a tour of the hospital where they could learn about its medical history and hear from some of the long-standing staff members.

Beth Adams, a tour guide and former employee at the hospital, pointed out some interesting symbols at the main building, such as the statue of Hygieia, who is the Greek goddess of hygiene and health.

Two Zimbabwean birds on top of the building relate to colonialist Cecil John Rhodes, whose memorial also sits on the mountain nearby. Groote Schuur Hospital is famous across the world thanks to the late Dr Christiaan Barnard who performed the first human heart transplant there in 1967.

There is a museum at the hospital where one can learn more about the operation and the patients and staff who were involved.

UCT also has a good working relationship with Groote Schuur Hospital – a joint agreement was established in 1951. UCT’s medical school was formed in 1912.

The tour took guests to the 1984 extension of the hospital. They were met by Madenia Hoosain who has been a nurse for over 40 years. Sister Hoosain wore a full light blue uniform that signifies that she is a general nurse. “With Groote Schuur celebrating 80 years of nursing, for me it’s all about patient-centred care,” she said.

The guests also saw how hospital equipment has changed over the years.

Professor Peter Gordon, who runs the anaesthetic museum, showed some out-dated devices from the early 1950s.

However, the Taurus blood-warming device, which was developed in 1965 is still in use today. It prevents hypothermia and cardiac arrest when massive blood transfusions take place.

The guests ventured briefly into the Chris Barnard Division of Cardiothoracic surgery, where they were shown the Draeger iron lung, which was developed in 1955, and acts like an artificial diaphragm to supply the lungs with fresh air.

Clinical technologist Lance Howell was the tour coordinator.

“The 80th birthday of the hospital was significant for me, as is the fact that I was able to join as a young man in 1987 and see the progression of intensive care and medical equipment and the progression of health care to the standard of where it is today,” said Mr Howell.

Groote Schuur Hospital will host more events to celebrate its 80th anniversary, including an academic day, a cook-off competition, golf day and gala dinner. The details of these events will be released at a later stage.